Last season, the NHL’s Eastern Conference’s playoff race was over before it even began. By the start of 2022, everyone already knew the eight teams playing for the Stanley Cup in May. It was a top-heavy conference with (mostly) the usual suspects. But this 2022-23 season, we could see some big changes per the NHL team points futures odds. As many as five new teams could be in the playoff race if all breaks well for them. But at the top, the elites remain unchanged.
Century Club: Five Teams Projected Over ‘100’
At the top of the Eastern Conference are five teams all projected to go over 100 points: Toronto (107.5), Florida (105.5), Tampa Bay (103.5), Carolina (102.5), and Pittsburgh (102.5).
This is a heavyweight’s list of contenders featuring two back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in Tampa and Pittsburgh, last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner in Florida, and perennial 100-point teams in Toronto and Carolina.
The Maple Leafs have consistently lost in the first round. But they also consistently light up the regular season. Auston Matthews is coming from a 60-goal campaign while Mitch Marner should have another 90-point season. The duo will light up the NHL team stats. Bettors are also confident the Leafs will have enough netminding from Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov to go over their lofty 107.5-point totals, which is juiced on the book.
Tampa Bay fell short of capturing its third straight Stanley Cup as its deep playoff runs have slowly chipped away its roster. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov have been hurt many times and Ondrej Palat, the team’s leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, left. Florida, its in-state rival, made the biggest changes in the offseason by hiring Paul Maurice as a coach and swapping Jonathan Huberdeau and Mackenzie Weegar for Matthew Tkachuk.
Carolina also made some changes by adding former All-Stars in Brent Burns and Max Pacioretty. The duo should add veteran leadership to complement its young stars. And finally, Pittsburgh re-signed all of its stars for one last crack at the Stanley Cup. The Penguins keep getting older but consistently finish in the top three of the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.
The NHL team points futures odds for the five teams are all lower than what they finished with last season. That’s not an indictment on them. It’s a nod to the lower half of the conference making big strides.
Plenty of Questions for Metropolitan Teams
The upper middle of the Eastern Conference is packed with Metropolitan teams. These teams have point totals in the 90s with the New York Rangers leading the way with 99.5 points, just shy of 100.
The “Blueshirts” went on a Conference Finals run last season under Gerard Gallant. The team also finished with 110 points, its most since 2014-15. They acquired Vincent Trocheck from Carolina and Jaroslav Halak to back up the reigning Vezina winner, Igor Shesterkin. It will be hard for New York to replicate last season and if Gallant-led teams are any indication, they could suffer a big drop-off.
Opposite the Rangers are their neighbors, the Islanders, who barely did anything outside of letting head coach Barry Trotz go. At 93.5 points, the oddsmakers believe this team will bounce back though fans are betting otherwise. New coach Lane Lambert brings a championship pedigree as an assistant with the 2018 Washington Capitals.
Speaking of them, the Capitals keep getting old but remain potent much like their rivals: the Penguins. Alex Ovechkin continues to score goals at a high level. Projected at 95.5 points, Washington is still expected to contend for a playoff spot as they poached Darcy Kuemper from the Stanley Cup Champions, Colorado.
Outside of the Metropolitan Division but in a similar situation are the NHL future odds have Boston at 94.5 points, which could be good enough for the final playoff spot in the East. But without Brad Marchand and an aging core, this may be the season Boston falls off.
Rebuilding Teams Looking to Make Runs
This is where it gets interesting. The reason why the teams above have reduced point totals is because of the hypothetical improvements of several teams. These clubs, from New Jersey (90.5) to Columbus (80.5) will make the playoff race more interesting if their young core can take their games to the next level.
New Jersey is projected to make the biggest leap out of the East going from 63 points to 90.5. This team was hurt by NHL injuries last year as star players Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton missed a hefty chunk of the season. If they’re healthier, and the additions of Palat and Vitek Vanecek pay off, New Jersey could realize its potential.
Ottawa and Detroit are also two young teams primed for a breakout. The Senators showed flashes in the past two seasons. They made a splash in the offseason by adding a slew of veterans, most notably Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat. Cam Talbot also brings more stability in net.
As for Detroit, this team has been hovering in the 70-point pace for what feels like an eternity. But the Red Wings may be ready to take the next step. Adding veterans like Andrew Copp and Ben Chiarot could give this team the right leadership as it looks to go over its NHL team points futures odds.
Columbus is one of the biggest wild card teams this year. The franchise shocked everyone by signing Johnny Gaudreau. The 115-point man will form a deadly duo with Patrik Laine. Even if Columbus isn’t winning, it will at least be an entertaining outfit.
Only Way But Up for Bottom Dwellers?
Bringing up the rear are the trio of Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Montreal. The Flyers and Canadiens seemingly competed for the top pick in the NHL Entry Draft.
Philadelphia has no plans of repeating that as it signed hard man John Tortorella to right this ship. This is a desperate ploy from Chuck Fletcher to fix this team, which is just two seasons removed from a deep playoff run. But 76.5 points won’t get it done.
Montreal showed promise late in the season under new coach Martin St. Louis. The team was on pace for 71 points with him at the helm, which is where the oddsmakers have lined the team: 71.5. Fans are bullish on this number and have bet it up similarly with Toronto. The Canadiens have plenty of young stars like Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and this year’s top pick: Juraj Slafkovsky.
Buffalo remains a perpetually rebuilding franchise and is expected to maintain its 75-point pace. There are a few bright spots here with the improved play of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin. Buffalo still has many blue-chip prospects who will only get better, but can they translate it to wins?Follow us on Twitter